Punching giant Mechs makes me feel good. Being able to control massive fantastical robots beating seven shades of scrap out of each is a childhood dream – a weird dream, I know, I blame watching Transformers: The Movie roughly a thousand times. Override 2: Super Mech League is basically that dream brought to life. Gone are any of the planet defending storyline pretensions found in the original game, instead this is a party game brawler from beginning to end. Override 2 should have been everything I ever wanted from a game, I was expecting something mechtacular. So, why, after an extensive playthrough, does Modus Games latest leave me cold? Let’s start at the beginning.
The set-up for Override 2 is a refreshingly simple one. Choose from one of twenty delightful and character-fuelled mechs to do battle with your foes in a series of enclosed arenas. Controls are immediate and accessible. Unlike the original, which saw the player control each robotic limb with a different input, Override 2 follows a much more straightforward light and heavy attack format. A tap of a button sees fists fly, feet fling and knees do whatever it is that knees do. Powerful and over the top specials are easily triggered and can make even the most inexperienced player look like a legendary pro.
This is all brilliant from a pick-up and play point of view but can often turn multiplayer bouts into a series of confusingly incomprehensible explosions of technicolour. It all looks cool, sure, but there’s no room for nuanced play here, leading to the combat in Override 2 having a disappointing lack of longevity. Ideal for a short-lived party game but I found myself quickly tiring from the lack of variety the gameplay had to offer.
This issue is exacerbated by the limited game modes available. One on one, two on two, and four against all match types are only slight variations on the same basic idea. Other game modes involve having to do battle in an ever reducing play area of defending yourself against wave after wave of alien aggressors but there’s little to no variety to proceedings. The same button-mash approach will work more often than not, resulting in play quickly becoming tired and repetitive. There’s just simply not enough to do.
A single-player league mode should have remedied these issues, as it offers the opportunity to progress your pilot up a league table whilst unlocking new accessories for the mechs with your winnings. In an interesting twist, each league match sees you do battle with other player-controlled mechs online. Well, that’s the idea at least. The matchmaking struggled to find anyone for me to play with, regardless of the time of day that I tried. This resulted in bots replacing human players. This is a problem when the bots are clearly lacking in memory, often forgetting that they are meant to fight you and instead just spending their time running in circles around the player’s mech like the proverbial headless chicken. Even bots on the toughest difficulty are a complete pushover; maybe they just need their batteries changing?
Any enjoyment of league mode will also be tarnished by time spent with your agent, Zoe, who might be one of the most irritating NPCs I’ve ever had the misfortune of virtually meeting. Before and after a match Zoe will bang on and on about, well, herself mostly. This is no slight on the voice actor, who does a decent job with the woeful material. It’s just that the verbal diarrhoea that is spouted has no point and overstays its welcome on each drawn out occasion. Every now and again Zoe will offer you a contract with a promoter to earn extra dosh but when one of the most exciting challenges offered is to block one hundred attacks, I think you’ll join me in a great big sarcastic ‘whoop de doo’.
A far greater challenge in your reaching of the top of the leader board than the inept machinations of your agent is Override 2’s unwieldy camera. Perhaps it’s down to the player mech being too big onscreen but the camera often fails to show you what you need to see. It’ll get stuck in or behind scenery on a regular basis, resulting in even more button mashing from the player until they can finally see what’s going on again. This issue is heightened by the developer’s odd predilection to fill each stage with narrow trenches and gaps. Despite the mechs clearly massive legs they are often unable to step out of these crevices. Add to this a shonky and ineffective jump button and all four mechs can soon become hilariously stuck, walking through one another like ghosts whilst punching and kicking furiously in the vague hope that the camera will keep up.
Whilst it’s initially hilarious watching three AI-controlled bots unable to escape from what is ostensibly a large pot hole, after the fiftieth occasion the fun begins to wane, believe me. Camera woes don’t stop there however, as the lock-on function is horribly unclear. It’s hard to track who your mech is looking at in the thick of a melee due to the lack of onscreen visual prompts, leading to many an embarrassing moment as your robotic killing machine wails away on a particularly dangerous patch of thin air.
There’s also a host of disappointing technical issues, on the base PS4 version I played at launch. In addition to matchmaking woes, you’ll have to put up with some stuttering lag on certain stages as the game slows down to snail speed whilst rotating the camera can result in some seriously unpleasant screen blur.
If all this sounds a tad negative – and it is – then Override’s saving grace is its brilliantly inventive roster of mechs. Each has its own distinctive personality, visual identity and unique looking attacks. There’s the Gundam inspired Watchbot, a clear love letter to Zoids in the form of metal Godzilla Metageckon, and even a bubble-gum firing bot called Sprinkles. My favourite? Undoubtedly the robotic wrestling luchador Pescado. Despite the many issues that hampered Override 2 from fulfilling my childhood giant robot fighting fantasies; having Pescado suplex, clothesline and dropkick its way to victory always put a smile on my face.